Oriental Dietary Therapy to Reduce Stomach Heat (Gastric Hyper-acidity, Reflux and Heartburn)

* Please bear in mind many symptoms of low stomach acid (burping, gas, cramps, nausea, abdominal pain, heartburn and reflux) may be the same symptoms presenting with  high stomach acid. It is important to be properly assessed and diagnosed before changing the diet. A simple test you can do is to ingest a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar. If there is a burning sensation in the upper abdomen you are likely to have adequate stomach acid or hyper-acidity. If you did not feel any sensation you may have low acid. Please see a qualified health practitioner.

Reducing Gut Acidity with Diet

The spleen and stomach qi governs digestion in Traditional Chinese Medicine, transforming food and drink to blood and qi to sustain us. Spleen qi may be thought of as the function of digestion in the whole abdomen, not just the spleen organ. Digestion functions best receiving warm, easily digested foods with plenty of fluid and vegetable content (such as porridge, stews, soups, casseroles and slow cooked meals). We need to harmonise the stomach and spleen to maintain a healthy acid-alkaline balance.

The colours of the earth element are orange and yellow. Orange and yellow vegetables and fruits will support earth, although citrus is acidic. A small squeeze of lemon in warm water is thought to be a subtle stimulation to harmonise the stomach.

The flavour of earth is sweet yet subtle, such as the sweetness of pumpkin, brown rice and chicken, with sweet potato being the sweetest. It is helpful to seek a neutral flavour, which is gentle on the palette and easy to digest.

It is good practice to eat at regular times and consciously relax during meals, sitting and eating with a relaxed and receptive stomach. This benefits healthy absorption of nutrients and smooths digestion while promoting a calm and grounded spirit.


Foods To Avoid

Anything greasy, fried, spicy, hot, dry, hard, cold, sticky, stimulating, excessively salty and highly processed.

Coffee, chocolate, cigarettes, most medications, alcohol, hot spices, red meat and sour foods (plums, vinegars, passionfruit, citrus) increase stomach acidity the most. Heating spices include cinnamon, chilli, garlic, pepper, cayenne, mustard (horseradish) and dried ginger. Excessive wheat consumption can inhibit digestion, promoting excessive acid formation too. A major source of inflammation and acidity is sugar… including natural sugars, such as honey, dried and fresh fruits, maple syrup, agave nectar, etc. Sugars are hidden ingredients in many processed products. Highly fibrous raw veg like carrot and beetroot are difficult to digest, irritating the stomach lining. They must be cooked. Ice cream, cold drinks and icy poles seem to soothe heat but ironically cold contracts and impedes digestion, firing the stomach acid up more to digest the cold food or drink.

Remember: “wheat and sweet promote heat”

Foods to Embrace

Fruit and veg: All orange and green fruit and veg, leafy greens and fluid rich veg such as eggplant, zucchini, cucumber, cabbage, sweet potato, lettuce, cauliflower, peas, beans, broccoli etc. Leafy greens and sea vegetables are especially alkalizing. If there are no damp signs, banana, fresh fig, pear and avocado are soothing and mucilaginous (producing mucous, coating and soothing gut walls).

Whole-grains: Millet, buckwheat, amaranth, quinoa, steel cut oats, barley, brown rice.

Proteins: Chicken, fish, tofu, tempeh, eggs, sesame and sunflower seeds, adzuki beans, kidney beans, mung beans (soak legumes well overnight, rinse and cook very well. Many people find legumes and pulses difficult to digest, so fermentation and gas accumulates, worsening symptoms). Nuts can be harsh on the stomach, so soaking or sprouting aids digestibility and reduces their drying nature, however most people are better to avoid them.

Dairy and Oils: Goat fetta and yoghurt, raw milk products, olive oil, flax seed oil, raw coconut and sesame oil, rice bran oil.

Tea, Herbs and Spices: Fennel, licorice root, slippery elm, turmeric, cardamon, nutmeg, mint, rooibos tea, white tea, chamomile, peppermint, vanilla bean, cumin, aniseed, star anise and dried mandarin or tangerine peel (a major Chinese herb for strengthening digestion). Aloe vera juice soothes and heals the gut lining.


Trust your gut instinct


Fiona D’Elboux (BHSc, Acupuncture)      ph: 0425 064 655

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